Ahead of our first game at the Bridge this season we caught up with Timo Werner to discuss his blossoming relationship with the Chelsea supporters, the importance he places on mental strength, and what targets he has set for his second season as a Blue…
It echoed around Stamford Bridge. It echoed around the Dragao. It was sung loud and proud at the Vitality Stadium in our first pre-season fixture. It’s clear Blues supporters just can’t get enough of Timo Werner’s new chant, to the tune of the Depeche Mode classic, which celebrates him ‘scoring at the Harding, and scoring at the Shed’, as well as his choice of Chelsea over Liverpool last year.
‘It’s something special,’ Timo tells us.
‘When you are new and you hear the fans singing your name, and also after the season I had with a lot of ups and downs, it feels very good.
‘After one-and-a-half years without fans, it is something special for them to be back, and to have people around you who scream for you and push for you.
‘We have missed it so much, but we had a taste of it at the end of last season, and now we are looking forward to playing in front of our fans again.’
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That will happen for the first time at Stamford Bridge in 2021/22 tonight, for the visit of Tottenham in our second Mind Series fixture. Not only will the Champions League trophy be paraded before kick-off, and the game offer Werner and his team-mates the opportunity to accumulate more valuable pre-season minutes, the occasion will also help support better mental health and wellbeing in communities at home and overseas.
Money raised from ticket sales, as well as the live stream on the 5th Stand app and this website, will be split between Mind and each club’s Foundations.
Werner has not been afraid to admit he has suffered from a loss of confidence during periods of bad form, and as a sportsperson in the public eye he has learned what is required to stay strong during those tricky times.
‘I think the most important thing in football is to keep your mentality up, keep your head clean from outside,’ the 25-year-old explains.
‘The media is getting bigger and bigger nowadays. Of course, when you play good you are the hero everywhere, but when you play badly it is a totally different story.
‘You have to step away from that and concentrate on your football. It’s not always easy because you have media on your phone, media always around you which can bring something up you can see, but you have to be straight, in your own bubble, to think only about the football.
‘It’s also important to always have people around you who help you, and give you strength to go on,’ adds the German.
‘Also, in the good moments they can bring you down a little bit, so you don’t think you are the hero. So they stop you in the good moments, and lift you up during the bad ones.’
There was plenty of good for Werner to celebrate in his first season at Chelsea, not least collective glory in the Champions League. Towards the end of the season, as we marched on in Europe, his on-pitch understanding with Kai Havertz seemed to reach a level. It was on display again at the Emirates on Sunday.
‘It feels like our relationship is growing together,’ reckons Timo.
‘Of course we speak the same language, we are good friends, so it’s not unusual we have a good relationship, but now we can show it on the pitch.
‘At the beginning of the season we both had our own problems, so we couldn’t watch the other one, but now both of us can handle it very good and can look out for each other.
‘On the pitch, mainly it’s me to him at the moment, and that’s no problem! We just want to win and it really doesn’t matter who scores the goals.’
Werner enjoyed a short but welcome break after Euro 2020, ‘enough to get a bit of rest and feel relaxed on holidays’, he explains. Regular double training sessions are getting him quickly up to speed again, and he believes the team’s impressive fitness was the main reason we looked so fresh towards the back end of the last campaign.
For this upcoming season, his second at Stamford Bridge, his objectives are clear.
‘We want to win a title; it doesn’t matter which one. The best thing would be the Champions League again, but also the Premier League is a big target. One of those titles is our target.
‘For me individually it is to score maybe a little bit more than last year, which was not the best thing, but to keep going and to help the team as much as I can with assists and scoring.’
It is that selflessness and creativity that has defined Werner’s Chelsea career so far, and a big reason why supporters are so enthusiastic in singing his name.
If he can build on his 12 goals and 15 assists from last season, then the volume of those chants will only intensify as more fans are welcomed back to the Bridge.
The matchday programme for tonight's game will be available to buy from the stadium ahead of kick-off and online from the Reach Sport shop.